Friday, July 21, 2017

Biking and SUPing

Yesterday was another cloudy, foggy morning! Been a lot of those here this year! Dad and I decided to do a shorter bike ride around Eagle Lake.  We called the Acadia NP info line to see if the connector from the visitor center was open and we were told that it was still closed, so we took the car over to Eagle Lake.  There were plenty of people who also had this plan! 

When we arrived there was lots of fog on the lake, but by the time we rode around the fog had lifted and the sun was out!  After our ride around Eagle Lake we did a loop around Paradise Hill.  Up there you get some great views of Frenchman's Bay, but not today as the fog was still thick out on the ocean.  

We spent the afternoon at the campground, Mom and Dad were doing some stuff for my Grandmother and I was reading.  We went into Bar Harbor for dinner and after dinner Dad and I walked The Shore Path which runs about a half mile from the Town Pier along the shore - ocean on one side and huge "cottages" on the other.  It was a nice walk! I'm surprised that I hadn't discovered it sooner! 

Today the forecast was for full sun and 85 degrees! Hot for Bar Harbor! We decided it was the perfect day for SUPing and kayaking at Echo Lake.  We left a bit later and went out to Ike's Point, the public boat launch.  Echo Lake is much nicer for SUP & kayak! It was calm, less wind, and there were no power boats! We paddled all over and it was a lot more relaxed than our SUP on Long Pond! I didn't fall in once! I went in to go swimming twice, but I didn't fall in at all! 

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside at Mom and Dad's site, I was using the wifi until the signal dropped, then reading, Mom and Dad were working on stuff for my grandma.  We went to Pepper's Pizza for dinner, this was a new one for us and it was very good! After dinner Dad and I walked the beach at Hull's Cove and watched the tide come in - it comes in quickly! Then we walked the campground a bit and went to Udder Heaven.  This time I tried blueberry cheesecake, it was really good! 

Catch up

I have fallen very far off the blogging wagon! I'm going to try and catch up! 

On Saturday, it was cloudy with the possiblity of rain, so we decided to go to lunch at the Jordan Pond House and then Dad and I were going hike. 

We were the only ones on the Jordan Pond bus heading out! Wow! It was after 10 and the bus was empty! I guess everyone was staying in because of the cloudy and cool weather! We go to to Jordan Pond Just before the restaurant opened! It was very chilly at Jordan Pond, I was wishing I'd brought more clothes!  We ended up eating soup for lunch because it was so chilly! After lunch Dad and I headed out to hike up to The Triad.  It was a shorter, more gentle hike through thick pine forest with moss and ferns and just a little bit of rock climbing! 

After out hike we went into Ellsworth, where I bought an inflatable SUP! I decided that the one at Cadillac Mountain Sports was a good deal - it was a discontinued model but it was a reputable company and quality ptoducts with good reviews! 

So of course, on Sunday Dad and I went out to Long Pond to kayak & SUP! He was in the Sea Eagle and he enjoyed it! The Sea Eagle is now his! We were out for 3 hours! We paddled all the way over the other side, had lunch in our boats and paddled back. The sun was intense and we were both worn out! 

Yesterday, Monday, Dad and I rode our bikes on the Carriage Trails! We started at the Visitor Center, but the connector trail was closed for resurfacing so we had to detour on the Park Loop Road to Duck Brook Road! Added about 2 miles to the ride!  Once we got on the Carriage Trails we went down to Eagle Lake, around half of Eagle Lake to Bubble Pond to Jordan Pond, back up and then down Aunt Betty's Pond and back to Witch Hole Pond to Duck Brook Bridge. It was a nice ride, more up and down than the Around The Mountain route so that was nice! It still had a lot of elevation gain/loss!  The weather during most of the ride was bright and sunny! We opted to ride back into Bar Harbor rather than going back to the Visitor Center. As we were riding down the hill suddenly the air got really cold! As we got closer to the ocean the fog got thicker and the air was cooler! We ate a quick lunch and got ice cream then headed back on the bus.  

Since it was early when we got back we drove up Cadillac Mountain so Mom and I could get our passports stamped. It was 75 and sunny up there, but we couldn't see the ocean at all because of the fog! We were above the fog, which was very cool! Next we drove around the park loop road, we couldn't see anything along the ocean because the fog was so thick! There was a 15* temperature difference between the summit of Cadillac and the ocean! After our drive we went into Bar Harbor and went to the Thai Restaurant and I saw my friends from the SUP class! 

This morning Dad and I hiked Norumbega Mountain! It was another shorter, less rocky trail, but we did have to go up The Goat Trail! The Goat Trail was steep and rocky, but not as steep and rocky as some other trails! Once again it was very cloudy and the fog was thick! It made the forest look cool, but it wasn't good for views. The trail description said that there weren't many views anyway so I don't think we missed much.  Even after the rocky climb the descent was pretty easy and then we went around Lower Hadlock Pond back to the car. 

This afternoon I went into Ellsworth to visit the AT&T store.  My phone had quit charging again and my tricks that I'd tried the last time weren't working. I'd been able to back it up on Mom and Dad's wifi so I decided I needed a new phone.  It was time for an upgrade anyway so it wasn't that big of a deal.  I was mostly worried about having all my stuff on my new phone.  Turns out I didn't need to worry about that! Once my phone was backed up in iCloud all I had to do was sign in and click "restore" and my shiny new phone looked just like my old broken one! Some of my accounts were even still signed in on my new phone! Wow! And, the iPhone 7 supposedly has an amazing camera! 


The Gorge Trail

Dad and I headed out this morning to hike in the Sieur de Monts Springs area.  We took the bus from the campground to the Visitor Center and took a Loop Road bus to Sieur de Monts.  

We did a loop that went up the saddle between Dorr and Cadillac Mountains.  It was regally pretty! It was all in the trees with rocks but they weren't that big or hard to walk over.  We started going around The Tarn on a well constructed rock path, then we started going up, up, up, over rocks! As far as rock climbs go it wasn't super hard, but it was still uphill! The trail did go along a creek and there were a few cascades and waterfalls. As we got closer to the top we did get some ocean views!  At the top we were .4 of a mile - of more up over rocks - from the summit of Cadillac! We didn't go the rest of the way up, we continued on the Gorge Trail that went between Dorr and Cadillac Mountains.  The down was still over rocks but again the trail was very well constructed and it was easy walking! The Gorge was really cool with big rock walls and tall trees!  

The trail we were on crossed the Hemlock Road that I'd been on yesterday so we decided to walk back into Bar Harbor rather than walk back to Sieur de Monts to get the bus! Once back in Bar Harbor we got some Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream and then caught the bus back to the campground. 

We went for an early dinner at Sweet Peas Farm Cafe. It was good, but not as good as the last time we were here! 

Cold Rainy Day

The forecast for rain for today was correct. It was rainy when I got up and chilly - only in the 50s.  I stayed in the van and read until about 9 and then got moving and headed into Ellsworth to go grocery shopping and check out the LL Bean Outlet and Cadillac Mountain Sports.  

Cadillac Mountain Sports had several inflatable SUPs, and they are reasonably priced! Hmmm.... I may be back over there! 

A quick trip to Hannaford and I was headed back to Bar Harbor! It had stopped raining, but it was dripping off the trees so I ate inside.  The rain was expected to clear up around 2 so I headed out on the bus, thinking it would be a good time go out to Thunder Hole and get my passport stamped since I figured it wouldn't be crowded and I was right! Even though it was cloudy, cold and spitting rain, there still people out, but not as many. 

I came around on the bus to Sieur de Monts Springs, there are a lot of trails there and I figured I could find a short trail to hike.  I found a trail that went up to a great view! Lots of rocky steps! Then I came down and walked a nice meadow with a boardwalk! I was going to walk back to get the bus back to Sieur de Monts, but when I looked at the map I realized I could walk right into Bar Harbor! 

Back in Bar Harbor I got ice cream and got the bus back to the campground. 

Mom and Dad had been driving up and had originally planned to be here tomorrow morning, but they were making good time and decided to come into Bar Harbor tonight! It was a scramble to find a site that was big enough for them, but I found one and they were able to get into it! 

SUP Lesson and Biking

Monday night I stopped into Acadia SUP and was chatting with the gal working, she helped me realize that I probably should take an actual SUP class, especially if I'm going to invest money in a board, I should know how you actually do it.  So I signed up for a class today at 9:00. I needed to be at the store in Bar Harbor at 8:30 so I was going to catch the 7:28 bus to the Village Green.  I arrived at the bus stop at 7:18 and sat down to wait.  Soon two other guys joined me.  We waited. And waited. And waited.  Finally I pulled out my bus schedule to double check the arrival time - yes, 7:28, it was now 7:40 and no bus.  The Island Explorer buses are always on time. Never late.  So what was up?  One of the other guys, Derick, who was waiting and I started chatting and it turns out, he was also heading in for the 9:00 SUP class.  He called the Island Explorer information line and explained that the bus was now 15 minutes late and we'd been here 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival time.  After a very long time on hold he was told that it was a new bus driver and he missed the stop! We never saw a bus go by. There is major construction on RT3 just pass our campground, eastbound traffic takes 3, westbound traffic takes a detour. In order to get to Bar Harbor from the campground you have to go east on 3.  If you took the detour heading east you'd miss the campground, so we are guessing that's what the driver did.  The Island Explorer person told us a bus would come in 10 mins.  After 15 mins with no bus and getting closer to not making it to our SUP class, Derick and I decided we needed to drive into Bar Harbor. Luckily he is tent camping and has a car! We walked to his site and jumped in his car and went into town.  We got there by the skin of our teeth! Although it turned out Derick was doing the ocean class and I was doing the lake class.  They offered for me to move to the ocean class - I think the guy in charge was very confused by our relationship! I'd called the SUP place on behalf of both of us, I'd explained that Derick and I had literally just met minutes before at the bus stop, but I don't think it computed! 

I was in a group of 8, one family of 4, 3 students from Thailand here working for the summer and me. We all drove out to Echo Lake, which is one of two lakes on the island that SUP is allowed (Long Pond is the other).  Sarah, our instructor was awesome! She clearly loves SUP and explained everything so well! The paddling strokes are different from canoeing and kayaking, and it's actually a lot easier than I was making it the other day! During the class we had a chance to practice our strokes and we even did a little yoga! Warrior 2 is really hard on a SUP! I had it for about 2 seconds and then fell right into the water! I was the 1st to fall in! I tried warrior 2 again so Sarah could get a picture and fell in again! Luckily it's easy to get back on the board!

After the lesson was over Sarah loaded the truck and then we headed back to Bar Harbor. They were doing some major electrical line work at the intersection of 102 and 3 in Somesville and we were stuck for almost 45 minutes! This is the crossroads of the roads on the island and there is no way around! Ugh.  When we finally got back to Bar Harbor I caught the #1 bus back to the campground and got into more traffic from more electrical line work.  Finally got back to the campground a little after 1. 

After lunch and doing the dishes from breakfast (I'd shoved the empty yogurt container back in the fridge because I didn't have time to wash it this morning and I knew if I left it out it would smell horrible by the time I got back.  Even after I washed it I decided it's place was in the fridge!)

It was nice this afternoon, but again tomorrow rain is predicted. So I decided to go do something this afternoon in case tomorrow is too wet.  I took my bike back to the Visitor Center and rode out the Carriage Roads to Eagle Lake. I rode around Eagle Lake and rather than going back to the Visitor Center I went to Duck Brook Bridge and then to Duck Brook Road and down into Bar Harbor. From Duck Brook Bridge it's all downhill and paved! Duck Brook Rd is closed to vehicles, but the other streets aren't. I had to ride on 3 for a little while & there is no shoulder! Luckily the car behind me slowed down and I could quickly turn onto Cottage Street! I went over to Mt. Desert Ice Cream and got the lemon blackberry again and then got the bus back to the campground for dinner.  All the electrical work seems to have been completed, or at least they quit for the day!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Penobscot and Sargent

Rain was forecast for this morning and sure enough when I woke up, it was raining! Not hard, a gentle light rain.  So I decided it was finally time to do the laundry! The laundry room opened at 8 but by 7:40 I decided to go up there and just wait, but when I got there it was already open! I'm glad I got there when I did because the lady who came in right after me had so much laundry she used all 8 washers! By 10 not only was my laundry done, but the rain had stopped and the sun had come out! 

I packed a lunch and headed to Jordan Pond to hike up Penobscot & Sargent Mountains! The buses were a lot more crowded mid-day, especially going to .Jordan Pond, it was standing room only!  

I'd hiked Penobscot & Sargent when I was here in 2009 and it was a great hike. I remembered thinking it was a really long hike so I was surprised when I calculated the length and realized it was only 5.5 miles! But it was a hard 5.5 miles! The first mile includes a section of straight up rock climbing! The park service has done a great job installing steps and bridges and railings to make it easier, but it's a vertical rock climb.  Once you reach the top however, most of the rest of the hike is a ridgeline hike and it's all open with views all around! The ocean and Cranberry Islands to the south, Pemetic Mountain and Jordan Pond to the east and Somes Sound to the west! It's pretty amazing up there! When I got to the open part the sun was out but quickly the wind kicked up and blew in some clouds and it was cloudy and windy the rest of the hike, not so good for the views, but cooler! After a nice ridge walk I made it to the top of Penobscot Mt, then down into the saddle and up Sargent Mt.  This mountain is a bit higher, 2nd highest in the park, and the clouds were thicker here. Sargent Mountain is more alpine looking with smoother rocks and scrubbier plants.  On Sargent Mt you get great views of Cadillac Mountain, which was also socked in with fog, and Eagle Lake. After Sargent it was time for the dreaded down hill. Getting down from Sargent Mt is just as hard as getting up Penobscot! The downhill is more on a trail, but it's narrow and rocky and steep! Eventually I got all the way down to the Jordan Pond Trail which is totally flat and it was a nice 2 mile stroll back to Jordan Pond House to catch the bus! 

I went directly from the hike to Rosalie's for pizza! Rosalie's is the best pizza in town! I've been wanting to go there since I got here but they aren't open for lunch and they were closed yesterday!  It was a bit early, but they were already starting to get busy! I got a medium veggie pizza and it was delicious! It was also huge, so now I have at least one other meal, maybe 2!   After pizza I hit my new favorite ice cream place, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream! They hand make all their ice cream 5 gallons at a time, they have some unique flavors, but it's so good! 

Even though it was early I returned to the campground! I've managed to make friends with some of the people who are camped near me, including some other Pleasure Way owners! 

SUP

Last night, on my way back from Udder Heaven last night I was trying to figure out a better way to get through the center of the campground and I discovered a whole section of water/electric sites I'd missed on Saturday! They were all in the trees so shady and cooler and they looked level! Because the campground is 1st come 1st served you can move sites if you see something better! So, just like that I moved to a much better site! And as bonus, the sun didn't wake me up at 4:30! I slept til 6! 

It was forecast to be sunny and warm today so I decided to go out to Long Pond and rent a SUP (standup paddle board - its like a surfing/kayaking hybrid).  A few weeks ago I'd been looking up kayak rentals and discovered the place on Long Pond that rents SUPs. I decided that I wanted to try SUP and a place that rents them and let's you go off on your own with it was perfect! 

I had to drive - no bus service to Long Pond, so I left here a little after 8 and got over there just before 9.  As predicted they handed my the board, the pfd, and a paddle and said "see ya in 3 hours!”.  Off I went! The paddle board is very light and easy to handle.  I watched 2 other people get on theirs to see what to do and then got on mine.  I started kneeling which worked great and then slowly I stood up.  It was very stable! Much more than I had predicted! Soon I was paddling my way up the pond (really a lake, but that's what Mainers call it!).  At first I just planted my feet, but soon I realized I could move around and I wouldn't fall off.  And if I did fall off, it wouldn't have been a big deal.  There was a very stiff wind on the lake and I was paddling into it, it was hard but seemed easier than the same task in a kayak.  When I got as far out as I was going to go I sat down on the board, that was nice - being able to decide to sit, stand or kneel, or even "surf board" with your arms doing the work. The board is so big you can lay down on it. On the way back the wind was pushing me so hard I didn't have to paddle! 

I got close to the take out spot well before my time was up so I played around and got more comfortable with maneuvering it and changing positions.  I learned that when it's windy dropping to your knees helps.  I did slip once, but I landed on the board so it wasn't a big deal.  It was nice just sitting and floating dragging my feet in the water! 

By the time I turned in my board I was pretty much in love with SUP and couldn't wait to try again! I'm thinking I might use a SUP more than I use the Sea Eagle.  Inflatables SUPs are pretty expensive, but it might be worth it, if I use it! 

After my rental time was over I had lunch by Long Pond and then drove out to Southwest Harbor.  There's not much in the little town but a few miles outside the town is the Bass Head Lighthouse! That the picture everyone sees of Acadia and very few visitors actually see it in person! The parking lot was small and said "no RVs" but I pulled in anyway and was able to park! I decided to pull in nose 1st and back out when I realized there was an empty spot behind where I'd pulled in and if backed straight up I could put the RV in it's own spot between two other cars! I'd never done that before! 

The walk to the lighthouse was short but there was another path that's went down on the rocks where you could get a good shot. The best shot involved perching a bit more preciously on the edge of the rocks than I like to go, but there was a safe spot to stand and it wasn't as dangerous as it looked.  

After the lighthouse I made a loop around the southwest part of the island and came out right by the lake where I'd been SUPing.  Then I decided to take 3 around through Northeast Harbor and back through Bar Harbor.  Northeast Harbor has more going on than Southwest, it's a cute little town.

 Once back in Bar Harbor I decided to drive up Cadillac Mt - the buses don't go up there so I'd need to drive the RV.  The sign said "no RVs" but once again I ignored that, it's not an RV, it's a van! I didn't think I'd be able to park at the top but sure enough there was a spot with 2 empty parking spots next to each other! I managed to get into just one and my bike wasn't even sticking out in the lane behind me! I walked around the summit loop and headed down.  

My last stop was the visitor center, I've been here lots on the bus but I never have time to run up and my stamp! I had one from 2009 but it had gotten wet and bled so I wanted another.  

I'd been planning to come back and do laundry (put off from yesterday), but I saw that it's probably going to rain tomorrow, so I decided to do something fun in the evening and save laundry for tomorrow (hopefully it does rain!).  I took the bus back to the Village Green and headed to Rosalie's Pizza for dinner.  They aren't open on Mondays.  So I went over to Acadia SUP and chatted with a nice gal there about SUP Yoga and the classes they offer. I also got to see an inflatable SUP in its bag - it's much smaller than the Sea Eagle and only weighs 25 lbs! Next I went out to the sand bar that leads to Bar Island during low tide - since it was currently low tide I walked out a bit then headed back to the Village Green for ice cream at my new favorite spot Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream. Then back to the campground for a late dinner and chores.  

Around the Mountain

First of all, yesterday evenings purchase of a new charger cord for my phone seemed to do the trick! It wasn't charging before bed, but I turned it off, left it plugged in and when I turned it on this morning it was fully charged! I used it a bit and then plugged it back in and it quickly charged back up to 100%! Yay! No need to go to Ellsworth! 

I'd planned to do a bike ride this morning and chores this afternoon, even without the trip to Ellsworth, I had things that needed to be done! 

The sun came up before 5, making it very easy for me to make the first bus at 7:28! The very nice driver came out and showed me how to use the bike rack (very easy when you know what to do!), no other bikes, but the bus was packed! I had to stand! It appeared that everyone on the bus was together, I later saw them all in Bar Harbor with rental bikes. 

I got off at the visitor center and got right out on the Carriage Trails.  I went out past Witch Hole Pond to Eagle Lake, around Eagle Lake to Conner's Nubble then turned at the intersection to get to the Around the Mountain Carriage Trail.  Last time we were here Dad and I did Around the Mountain starting from Jordan Pond - first we went up, up, up - I remembered it being a really tough climb, but I couldn't remember the downhill. So this time I decided to go the other way so the part that was uphill last time was now downhill.  The uphill on the other side is just as tough! And, at that time of the morning it was all in the sun, the other side was all in the shade! I ended up walking for a good part of it (walking is acceptable as far as I'm concerned, you are still getting there under your own steam!).  When I got to Jordan Pond I climbed back up to Connors Nubble - this was an easier climb, but my quads were not really happy with more up! Back at the intersection I coasted down Connors Nubble and around the other side of Eagle Lake then back up past Witch Hole Pond to the Visitor Center.  Total mileage was about 22 miles! But with so many ups and downs it was a much harder 22 miles than the Minuteman Trail in Boston! 

It was almost noon when I got back to the campground so I got a shower and lunch then headed into Bar Harbor to get the groceries! Since I didn't need anything super heavy I decided it would be easiest to take the bus.  It was a long hot walk from the Village Green to Hannaford, and and even longer walk back with a big bag of groceries, but I got what I needed and got back to the campground to start cooking! 

I haven't had to cook much in the RV because when I'm out for extended trips I'm usually with Mom and Dad and they cook, but this time I'm on my own! Since I had eggs I wanted to use up I decided to make a quiche - spinach & mushroom and feta.  It took longer to prepare than it would have at home because I didn't have a rhythm down for working in the small kitchen, but I had everything I needed and cooked it in my convection oven! It came out great! This was only the 3rd time I've used me convection oven! The 1st two times were coming home last year when I cooked something frozen that needed to be cooked in the oven. 

This evening I hope to finally get blogs from last week posted and I'm finally going to walk over to Udder Heaven! 

Bar Harbor

The sun come up early here on the very edge of the east coast! It was getting light in my RV around 4:30, with full sun by 5:30! Good thing I like to be up early! I tried to go through my morning routine slowly but I was still ready to go before 7! Early to leave Freeport, early to arrive in Bar Harbor! 

I like going to new places and seeing new things, but it's also really nice to come back to a place you know well! This is my 4th time in Bar Harbor and it was nice to pull in and know where everything was, how to take the bus, what the best campground is, etc.  Several years ago we discovered The Bar Harbor Campground and it's pretty much the best. They don't take reservations or credit cards! You come in, pick your site from the available ones, and it's yours till you decide to leave! It's right on the bus route and there's an ice cream place walking distance just outside the campground! When I arrived this morning there weren't many site choices, but I got a water/electric pull through. It's not very shady and not very pleasant to hang out in, but it's a site and I don't need to spend too much time here!

My iPhone has been having a hard time charging. It wasn't charging the other day and then last night it didn't charge at all despite being plugged in, I had it plugged in all day and still nothing.  I've tried different power sources, different cords, turning it off and back on again, several hard re-sets, and I now have a brand new cord, but nothing seems to be working.  Luckily my iPad is charging and I have wifi here that actually works so it's not *that* big of a problem, I am planning to to Ellsworth tomorrow to see what I can do about it. 

The bigger thing that's annoying is that my phone is my only camera! I left my little camera at home because last year it drove me crazy that I had pictures on two devices, this year I decided, one device was all I was taking! 

Knowing that the phone could wait, I got on the bus and headed out to Sand Beach to hike first around Great Head and the down the Ocean Path to Otter Cliffs! Thanks to the bus system you can do this as a 1 way hike, and get on the bus at the end.  The hike was really nice! When I got off the bus at Sand Beach I was hit with a blast of cold air that I thought was the buses AC, turns out it was the breeze off the ocean! The sun was shining as I started and the breeze was keeping it cool! After I finished Great Head the fog/mist/clouds began to roll in and it was cloudy and chilly. It was still nice though. The bus that picked me up was a "Loop Road" bus vs a "Sand Beach" bus and it traveled through a part of the park I'd never been to and brought me back to the Visitor Center which was perfect to catch the bus back to the Bar Harbor Campground! 

When I got back I did some chores, ate dinner, then realized the problem with the phone might be the charger cord I'm using, so I hopped a bus into Bar Harbor and got a new charger cord.  So far it's not working.  While I was in town I also got ice cream! 

The other nice thing about the Far East east coast, it gets dark earlier! 9:00 and it's already good and dark! Time for bed so I can be up when the sun comes up! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Freeport

First stop this morning, after dumping the tanks and re-fueling, was the Minuteman National Historic Place. This of course involved more navigating! At one point I was pretty sure I'd followed the directions, but hadn't, and ended up in a lovely neighborhood winding around making my way back on route.  

The visitor center didn't open until 9:30 and I got there before 9 so I took a walk on the trail that went through the park.  I found the spot where Paul Revere was captured! I turned around there and headed back to the VC, which by now was open, got my passport stamped and was on my way. 

Luckily for me the park was very close to I95! I don't think I've ever been so happy to get on 95 and just follow the road and not have to think! Almost as soon as I got on 95, the promised rain began! I cruised up 95 through the rest of Massachusetts, the 20 miles of New Hampshire and was soon at the Maine state line! I stopped for lunch at the rest stop just inside Maine, and it was raining pretty hard.  However, by the time I was exiting the highway in Freeport, the rain had stopped! Cloudy, but no rain!  Well timed rain! Enough to wash the bugs off the windshield too! 

My first stop in Freeport was Recompence Shores Campground, one of my favorite campgrounds ever - to see if they had a site for tonight, they did! It was even an ocean view! Score! I've stayed here 3 times and this is the 1st time I had an ocean view! 

With a campsite secured I headed back into town.  A friend from school told me about Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick, so of course I'd wanted to give it a try.  Brunswick is only about 10 miles from Freeport so I thought maybe I'd go up there and get ice cream before hitting LLBean but when I got here I decided I just didn't feel like more navigating so had decided against going up there.  Then as I was leaving Recompence I noticed that nothing looked familiar, I pulled out my phone to check my route, sure enough, I'd missed a turn, but all was not lost, I was headed directly into Brunswick!  I guess I was getting gelato after all! 

Brunswick was of course crowded, but I found a parallel parking spot - I even squeezed myself in between 2 cars! I did have about 50 feet to play with, but still! I don't know how to parallel park so this was an achievement! 

The gelato was amazing! Best I've ever eaten! So smooth and creamy! They let you have as many flavors as you want in any size (most places serve by the scoop - more flavors means multiple scoops!) so I got lemon cookie and chocolate brownie! Not a combo I think goes together but both flavors sounded good! 

After gelato I made my way Freeport, where the RV spots were occupied only by RVs and there was room for me! I pulled in behind another RV and headed out.  I didn't take too long in LLBean - walked through all the buildings & the outlet! On my way back to the campground I stopped at The Bow Street Market - a fun local/natural foods store. 

Back at the campground I walked up to the store/farm cafe for their brick oven pizza dinner special - had a yummy garlic scape & pesto pizza.  After dinner I walked around the farm and down to the ocean.  The clouds broke up and the sun came out!  Then I pulled out my chair and read as the sun was setting! I have a view of the ocean and it's getting chillier by the minute! As soon as the sun sank below the trees I broke out the hoodie! 

Books and Bikes

Today was all about navigation! Google and I got real friendly, I never would have made it without him? her? it? 

Almost immediately after I left Shodack Island I missed a turn and was off route.  I accidentally turned on the "turn by turn voice feature", which I typically hate, but I realized that just viewing that page gave me valuable information about when the next turn was, what road it was, etc.  If I turned the radio up I couldn't hear the persistent voice telling me over and over what to do! This would prove to be very helpful as the day went on! 

I navigated from the campground to I90, after that it was easy to get to the Eric Carle Museum of Children's Book Art.  I throughly enjoyed my hour spent there! They have an exhibit about David Wisener and wordless story books. He's one of my favorite artists and I loved learning more about him and discovering some new books! 

I had two other stops in Springfield planned, but they are forecasting rain for tomorrow and I wanted to get in the bike ride I'd planned near Boston. I'd made reservations at the only campground near Boston and decided that took priority, it would be easy to catch the Springfield things next time. So, I left Amherst heading for Boston.  Google maps gave me two options - 90 to 95 or a backroad option through northern MA.  I chose the backroads! 

I'd gotten about 10 miles in when the road I missed a turn, only I didn't realize it until I'd gone a few miles. Then it was several more miles to find a place to turn around.  I saw a sign for "wildlife viewing area" and turned in there to turn around. It happened to be a park next to a reservoir and there was one vacant picnic table with a water view in the shade, so I had lunch! 

The trip across Massachusetts was beautiful! I went up and over mountains, no civilization at all, then I came to MA2 which started as 2 lane & grew to 4 before I got to Bedford! 

My next destination was Bedford, where the start of the Minuteman Commuter Rail Trail was. This is another Rail Trail Hall of Fame trail! I never would have found my way to Bedford without google. The route I needed was constantly changing, and the signs all mention towns I've never heard of, all the roads are tiny 2 lane roads with trees and houses (very  nice!), and then there are roundabouts every few miles! I actually have come to like roundabouts, but it's hard when you aren't sure which way you want to go! Luckily google knew! The only problem with this method of navigation is that I arrived in Bedford with no idea how I'd gotten here, which direction was which or anything! I'd arrived, but I'd missed key factors in the process of getting there. 

There was a large shopping center with a Whole Foods about a block from the trailhead so I parked there and headed off!  The trail was very nice - paved, smooth, shady, but it was nothing super special.  It was as the name implied, a commuter trail. It reminded me a bit of the W&OD in Northern Virginia but this trail was nicer! It passed through the towns of Lexington and Arlington both with shops and cafes right off the trail! 

It was only 11 miles from Bedford to the end of the trail in Cambridge. At the end there's a wetland preserve with boardwalks and ponds with Lilly pads, but it's definitely very urban! As I rode back I really saw the contrast between the suburban beginning and the urban end! 

After my ride it was time for more navigation! This time I needed to get back out to Littleton, MA where my campground was. This was easy thanks to google, I did take some extra time to study the map and the directions before I started and that helped me have a general idea of where I was headed. 

The campground is your basic campground - small sites, lots of RVs.  My site is level and backs to the woods! When I walked around this evening I did notice that they made excellent use of all the available space, there's not much rhyme or reason to which sites goe which way, but they can get a maximum number of RVs in! A bit like Tetris! 

Walkway over the Hudson and Hyde Park, NY

It got chilly last night! I broke out the hoodie this morning! I was up early and on the road by 7! I only had 70 miles to drive to get to Poughkeepsie, NY where the Walkway over the Hudson is but I had a lot to do today so getting started early was smart! 

The Walkway over the Hudson is part of the Rail Trail Hall of Fame Hudson Valley Rail Trail, it also connects to the Duchess County Rail Trail.  The Walkway is an old railroad trestle that they turned into a pedestrian and bike bridge. It's the world's longest elevated pedestrian walkway! It's 1.28 miles long and very high! It connects Highland, NY to Poughkeepsie, NY.  

I decided to park in Poughkeepsie and ride back to Highland since my plans after the ride were to explore Hyde Park with is just a few miles North of Poughkeepsie.  Next time however, I'd recommend parking in Highland. There are numerous parking spots along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail that can accommodate all vehicles! 

Once I got over the Mid-Hudson Bridge I had to navigate my way through Poughkeepsie and find parking. This was not easy and was made more difficult by the fact that my phone was on its last battery! Apparently it didn't charge while I was listening to my audio book, despite being plugged in. Ugh.  Luckily the bridge is very high and can be seen from everywhere making it easy to keep a visual on and drive closer to it.  I got detoured once by construction and then I *think* I may have gone down a 1 way street the wrong way, I'm not entirely sure, it wasn't marked well, but I did eventually find a park just about a block from a staircase that went up to the walkway.  

The park didn't look like the safest place ever to park, but it wasn't obviously dangerous so I got my stuff, left the phone plugged in so it would charge and headed up to the bridge! Hauling my bike up the stairs wasn't easy, but it was doable.  The ride across was really cool! The bridge is very high and you can see everything! No pictures, my phone was back in the van! Once I got to the other side I decided to ride the 3.5 miles to the end of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. It was a nice trail too - paved, shady, a good ride! After I crossed the Walkway again I continued past the staircase hoping to find a map of the Duchess County Trail to see if I wanted to go a bit further.  I didn't find a map, but I did find a way back to the van that didn't involved the stairs! I went through the "main" parking lot which was a sea of big sharp rocks! Made the park look good! Seriously, next time, park in Highland! 

After I got the bike back on and saw that my phone had finally started charging I headed up RT 9 to Hyde Park, which is the location of 3 National Historic Sites! I started at Eleanor Roosevelt's house - Val-Kil which had a lovely 1 mile loop hike. I then went over to FDR's house, Museum and Presidential Library. I found a nice picnic table and had lunch before going to to check out the exhibits and movie. I didn't do the tour, it was expensive and was about an hour long.  Finally I went up to the Vanderbilt Mansion, here I pretty much just got my passport stamped and kept moving. It was really hot and there wasn't much to do besides the tour. 

Rather than double back to the NY State Thruway I drove North on RT 9, 9G and 9J. This was a beautiful scenic drive! I had a few views of the Hudson and great views of some huge mountains over there - Catskills? Adirondacks? Not sure.  Camping tonigh at Schodack Island, SP - it's a great place right on the Hudson and very close to I90! Lots of wildlife at Shodack Island - a frog hopped across my site, a bird tried to eat my dinner and while I was eating a turtle was crawling around in the grass! 

Delaware Water Gap

Delaware Water Gap is a major landmark on the Appalachian Trail, it is also a NPS site, so has a passport stamp, and it was on my "avoid I95" route! 

I left Cunningham Falls at 7:30 to drive the 200 miles to Delaware Water Gap, this is the biggest mileage day of my trip north! Funny how things are so close together on the east coast! 

I arrived at DWG at 11 and pulled into the Welcome Center, hoping to get some directions on where to go. As I pulled in there was amiddle aged or older  man heading for his jeep, when he saw my van he was instantly enthralled and just stood there gazing at it longingly. When I parked he approached and was checking me out from all angles.  He did not knock, bug it was obvious he was waiting for someone to come out. I couldn't just hide and pretend I wasn't there, it was obvious that I was, I'd just driven in.  It was clear that he was more interested in the vehicle than me, but still, this isn't how you make new friends. At one point he got close enough to the van that I could see that his face and arms were covered with a thick layer of un-rubbed in sunscreen.  He looked a bit ridiculous and then I decided he was harmless enough to open the door and chat with him, he was dreaming of owning a Pleasure Way and it made his day to see one in person.  I chatted with him briefly but made it obvious this was a very short term relationship and he got in his jeep and drove off! 

The Welcome Center wasn't much help so I consulted Google for directions to the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center, which is right on the river and had the AT going right through it. When I got there I discovered that the parking lot was full, and 2 of the 3 "RV" spots had cars in them! I quickly decided to double park withthe smallest of the compact cars and run in to at least get my passport stamped.  I'd seen the owners prepping for a hike when I pulled in so figured they'd be gone at least the 5 minutes that it would take me to run in.  In the VC the Ranger told me about the shuttle that runs from the park and ride by the visitor center, so I went back up there to park, planning to spend more time hiking the AT & exploring.  

At the park and ride I determined that the shuttle was due in 20 minutes, so I quickly packed a lunch, changed my shoes, applied sunscreen and got ready to spend at least a few hours out exploring.  The appointed time for the shuttle to arrive came and went with no shuttle. The other couple waiting called an Uber and invited me to go along, but I declined thinking that I might have a hard time getting back if the shuttle didn't work as promised.   I waited a few more minutes and gave up on the shuttle. I drove back to the Welcome Center where I'd seen some shady picnic tables and had lunch. 

Before lunch I called Dingmans Campground to see if they had availability for tonight, which they did, so after lunch I headed up 209 to the campground.  It's a beautiful campground, big wooded sites, lots of shade, river access and, ironically, almost totally deserted. There are maybe 10 (of the 120 or so) campsites occupied tonight.  For all that fighting for parking and this place is empty! I think DWG is more of a Day Use park for people in NYC-ish area.  I probably should have come out to the campground 1st then driven back the 20 miles to the visitor center and getting there later I would have been able to park. 

 There are lots of trails and waterfalls in the park but I didn't want to fight for parking so I just pulled into my site and enjoyed what was close - The McDade Rec Path and the river. The McDade Rec Path goes about 25 miles through the whole recreation area so it seemed like it would be a good way to get around.  I'd asked the guy in the campground office which way on the path I should go and he said "south". First I rode around the campground to get a feel for the place, then I headed out going south.  First of all the trail is crushed gravel and a bit rougher than I like, it's not as rough as some and my nifty new tires were helpful. 2nd this section of the trail skirted corn fields and was very exposed and hot.  I wasn't into it. So I turned around and went north.  This section was much better! It was all wooded and shady! There were several big, steep hills, even a switchback! Not sure I've ever ridden my bike on a switchback! I did get off and walk in a few places.  It was very hot so I didn't go too far, maybe about 5 miles total.  

When I got back to the van it was still early so I rode my bike to the river in the campground, thinking I'd yo for a swim.  The river isn't deep enough for swimming, only about calf deep! So I wadded a bit, being so shallow the water was very warm, but it was very nice down there!  

Back at the campsite I spent the rest of the evening reading, blogging and taking a walk in the campground.  

Cunningham Falls State Park

I have a shorter summer this year because we started after Labor Day but we are going back before.  So, I didn't want to travel too far. I also wanted the trip to be easy to plan, not involving a whole lot of plotting and thinking.  The number one spot that fit, Bar Harbor! Having been there before I know exactly what I want to do, there's stuff I haven't done yet, and the Bar Harbor Campground is the easiest place ever to stay! 

I planned a scenic route to get there and back that avoids I-95 and allows for some stops to see stuff along the way! My plan is to take 4 days to ge there and 4-5 to get back.  I'm thinking I'll spend 1-2 weeks in Bar Harbor, giving me about 4 weeks of travel. 

Mom and Dad are planning to join me in Bar Harbor at some point, but they have several things they are trying to take care of.  

I was going to wait to leave until July 4 to escape the crowds, but I decided to check and see if Cunningham Falls had any sites open and they did! I'm guessing that July 4 being a Tuesday has thrown off the "weekend" and many people only get Tuesday off!  

I left home at 10 and my first stop was Wegmans near Dulles, for last minute stuff I didn't buy on Friday.  Then I continued on to the park, arriving here at 2:00. Getting out of Northern Virginia is challenging, even mid-day! 

Since it was so early when I got here I went over to the lake to swim and people watch! There were a lot of people, but it wasn't crowded! The lake wasn't that inviting.  The swimming area was shallow and warm with a mucky bottom. You had to stay in the swimming area too, so no going out deep! I swam a few laps in the deepest part and got out.  I sat on my towel in the grass for a little while waiting my suit to dry and then walked back to the van. 

My site is in the uppermost loop and it is very quiet and shady! The shade made it very pleasant to sit outside and read this afternoon.  I got a new chair (after my old chair was stolen Memorial Day weekend when I used it to mark my site!), it's one of the anti-gravity recliner chairs and it's very comfortable! I enjoyed the afternoon just sitting and reading. 

After dinner I got out and walked the campground - it's a big place with a huge hill between the four loops.  My loop is the quietest loop! There are lots of open sites in all the loops though! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

New River Trail

Over Memorial Day weekend I met up with Mom and Dad in Southwest VA to ride The New River Trail

We had a 2 hour early release from school so I was able to leave Northern VA by 1:30! There was no traffic on 66 and soon I was heading down 81. I stopped at the Ft. Valley Garden Center and Cafe in Woodstock and got a salad for dinner.  Then continued down 81, thinking I'd stop at a rest area and eat later. 

I was almost to Roanoke when I saw a traffic sign that said "Roanoke, 30 miles, 81 minutes".  What?!?? Almost immediately traffic stopped. I made a quick decision to bail out onto US11 and continued south with no traffic.  Only catch, there are no rest stops for dinner on US11! But I got really lucky, as I passed through Troutville I saw a city park and pulled right in.  The park was really nice with plenty of picnic tables, swings that looked like chairs, and a short paved walking trail! It was a lovely spot to eat, stretch my legs and swing! It was a lovely evening but I knew I had to get back on the road or I'd never get to the campground. 

I encountered more traffic around Radford, but soon I'd made it to the Ft. Chiswell RV Resort  only about 30 minutes later than I'd planned! 

The weather forecast for the weekend wasn't very good - storms Saturday afternoon and an 80% chance of rain on Sunday.  This could mess up our plan to ride 30 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday to finish the trail! 

We headed out early Saturday to get the ride in before the storms.  After some confusion we ended up parking the van at the Foster Falls trailhead and then drove to Galax which is the end of the trail. Mom was going to drive the jeep back to the campground so we didn't have to go back to Galax.

The trail started out really nice. Shaded, by a rushing creek. It was cool and lovely! About two miles in another biker came up and was chatting with Dad as they rode. I was enough ahead that I couldn't really hear them, but they were chatting away.  Soon we crossed the New River and reached the Fries Junction.  Our new friend Don had been planning to turn around and go back to Galax at Fries Junction, but I guess he liked us because he kept riding with us.  He rode with us all the way to Foster Falls and then had to ride back! (Total ride 44 miles! He'd only been planning to ride about 12!)

 
Bridge over the New River 

After we crossed the river the trail was less interesting, but still nice! The trail surface was wide and smooth. We stopped twice for snacks and bathroom and soon we were pulling into Foster Falls.  I was very glad to be there because I'd filled my hydration pack from the RV and it had a distinct RV Antifreeze aftertaste.  RV Antifreeze isn't toxic, it won't hurt you to drink the water, but it didn't taste very good so I was glad to get some cold fizzy water in my van! 

Both Dad and I calculated the mileage from Galax to Foster Falls and we both came up with close to 30 miles, so we were surprised when we arrived to find that it was only 22 miles.  What? How'd we both do the math wrong? Turns out we accidentally put the distance to Fries down a spur trail in our mileage, we didn't go to Fries! So, he we were, done with the days ride at 1:00, the sun was shinning, no sign of rain, yet.  So, we decided to keep riding! We texted Mom to come pick us up in Pulaski - the other end of the trail, we'd ride all 50 miles today.   

The thing with biking is that I can go a long ways before I get done, but once I'm done, I'm done.  Usually that happens around mile 30-32. Before that however, I'll agree to ride a significant distance! So, it didn't surprise me much when 11 miles from Foster Falls I started rethinking our plan to go all the way to Pulaski.  We texted Mom and asked her to meet us in Draper. That would only cut off 7 miles, but it was the only road crossing.  

I made it till about mile 40 before I had to take a walk break for about a mile! 

 


 

Fun fact about the New River, it one of the only rivers in the country that flows south to north! It starts in the mountains of North Carolina, then travels through Virginia, and West Virginia before joining up with the Gauley and the Kanawha and dumping into the Ohio. 

Once we made it to Draper, Mom was there waiting and we went back to the campground, got cleaned up and headed into Wytheville for a yummy and interesting dinner at The Log House.  As we were finishing up dinner a small storm rolled through and it rained a bit when we got back to the campground. 

Sunday, the day we were expecting an 80% chance of rain, dawned sunny and warm! Not a cloud in the sky.  So, what were we're going to do? We'd already ridden as much of the trail as we felt we needed to.  

After a lazy ceampground morning we headed over to The Mansion at Ft. Chiswell for lunch and a tour.  It was interesting and the ice cream after lunch was really yummy! 

In the afternoon we drove up to Claytor Lake State Park to check it out. Dad and I went on a short hike while Mom took advantage of the good cell signal a sat in a gazebo by the lake and made phone calls. Fun fact, Claytor Lake was formed by damming up the New River! 

After we were done at the lake we drove back via Pulaski to check the town out. Not much there. We did take 11 rather than getting on the interstate and went over a big mountain with a pullout at the top.  Then we headed back to Wytheville for pizza at The Italian Garden.  It never did rain a single drop! 

Monday I had to make the long drive home. I'd considered going up the Blue Ridge Parkway but decided it would take almost twice as long as 81 because it was further mileage and the speed limit was significantly slower, so back up 81 it was.  I did stop for a quick visit at Natural Bridge State Park   It was a nice walk and cool to see the bridge.  After that it was directly home with a stop at Wegmans! 

 


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Greenbriar River Trail - Day 3

One of the challenges with riding the Greenbriar River Trail (GRT) is that there are few road crossings. This is why I'd felt like I had to do such a big mileage day yesterday, so I could break it down into sections to work through it.  My original plan had me completing the entire north half in 3 days of riding! The trail is 80 miles long and I'd turned around on Monday at mile 40 so exactly halfway.  Last night I was checking out the map and saw that there was a road crossing I'd missed at Clover Lick.  You had to drive down Laurel Run Road - Road 1/4 - for 4.2 miles but it said there was horse trailer parking, so I figured it would be RV friendly-ish. Despite the fact that it's route number was a fraction, I was hoping it would be a real road, in West Virginia you never know! From there it was 5.5 miles to the bridge and tunnel I'd attempted to ride to yesterday.  And 7 miles from there to where I'd turned around. So, I could complete the section, and just have a few miles at the end to complete. 

It rained overnight, but it never got really cold! I was too hot sleeping with socks on! It was still cloudy and cool when I left the campground this morning.  The sun was predicted to come out later, but it was only going to be in the 60s today.  Much nicer than nearly 90 from yesterday! 

I drove back to Marlinton on 219. 219 runs almost parallel to the rail trail, only it goes over a few mountains in the 10 mil distance! There were two big descents - one 10% grade and one 7% grade and many "KYA" or "kiss your ass" turns.  Seems funny to me that the rail trail is a flat straight trail yet all the roads around it are really hilly! Wonder why they didn't build the road next to the railroad tracks? 

I quickly got through Marlinton and headed up 28, through Seneca State Forest and found Road 1/4 and headed down it.  It was very narrow, one lane, but it was paved! It was a nice easy drive and soon I was at the trail parking area at Clover Lick.  There were 2 people sitting on their front porch enjoying the morning and their very friendly lab mix, Buddy, was running around.  He and I got aquatinted and he wanted to play, but I rode off! 

This section was another pleasant section of the trail! It all looks very similar, but it's also all unique! The tunnel was big and kinda scary! Very dark! I ended up walking the bike through it because I couldn't see a thing inside and there were rocks and stuff on the trail surface! The bridge was a regular bridge, nothing special.  

I decided not to press on to complete the last 1.5 (3 RT) miles of the section.  My body was definitely reminding me that I'd biked a lot over the last few days and while it felt good to get out and do more I knew that shorter was better today.  My Map My Ride app calculated my mileage at over 6 miles from Clover Lick so I'm not sure if the map was off or my app. I decided I was ok with not finishing every inch of the section and headed back to the van! 

After a quick lunch and a few chapters in my book I drove back out Road 1/4 and headed into Cass to check it out.  

Turns out Cass is seasonal and this isn't its season.  Nothing was open and the town was deserted. Now what? The campground I was planning to go to, Seneca Shadows near Seneca Rocks, was only an hour away and I knew there wasn't much to do there.  I decided to take the scenic route to the campground past Snowshoe, up 219 to Elkins and then down 33 to Seneca Rocks.  I was hoping to find some hiking along the way and maybe take a quick trip into Kumbrabow State Forest. 

My grandpa used to take my uncles, and later my Dad and my aunt, to Kumbrabow for "Turkey Hunting" trips. Only no one was allowed to shoot turkeys, so it was more "Turkey Stalking" or just an excuse to spend the weekend hiking! I've been to Kumbrabow twice and we have more pictures of it than we have pictures of each other! Since I was so close I thought I'd go wander around, maybe walk out to everyone's favorite spot in the creek and get some pictures. Dad had warned me that I wouldn't like driving Roxy on the road in because of the bumps.  It's been more than a decade since any of us have been there so I decided there was a chance the road had been improved. 

The first part, almost a mile, of the road was paved! It went straight up with many hairpin turns, but it was paved! Then it turned to dirt. Not many bumps, certainly smoother than the road to the Catherdral Lake Trailhead near Aspen! But it was very narrow, with a sheer drop off on one side and it was continuing to climb and twist and turn. I did see a turkey! Came right out about to cross the road! I didn't get a picture.  More troubling was that I didn't remember even one bit of driving this road.  The last time I'd been to Kumbrabow I'd driven and this wasn't matching up at all with my memory of the drive, not was it at all familiar. Since I had no idea where I was or where I was headed and the road didn't look like one I should be continuing down without knowledge of my destination I decided to turn around.  Easier said than done. I did find a wide spot in the road where I could do a 4 point turn without backing over the edge and turn around.  Once I got turned around I picked up my phone and noticed that I had full cell & data signal! No way! So I checked google maps, I was right on the edge of the green area labeled "Kumbrabow State Forest", so I might have been almost there, but I was already turned around so down I went. And, I'd seen a turkey so technically my turkey hunting experience was compete! It was so steep going down that 1st gear wouldn't hold it! I had to keep braking to keep my speed under control! 

Next stop was Elkins, where I went on a mini ice cream bender! When I got into town the first place I saw was Dairy Queen and thought I'd get a treat, since I didn't get DQ yesterday. But before I committed I decided to search and see if there was anything local.  When I searched "ice cream" one of the hits was The Custard Stand. That rang a bell, I think it was featured in a list my mom sent me of 101 places to eat in West Virginia.  When I clicked the link however, I learned that they are famous for their chili. Apparently they make some pretty amazing chili, both hot dog chili and soup chili.  Who knew those were two distinct types of chili? (Hot dog chili is a topping for your hot dog.)  The reviews mentioned 50 some flavors of soft serve though so I decided to give it a try. 

Navigating to the location was more complicated than I expected but I found it, wedged the RV into the tiny parking lot and headed in.  They did offer many flavors of soft serve, but it was with syrup poured over the ice cream so I opted for a basic chocolate.  It was pretty awesome! Thick and chocolatey and just enough in the small cone! While I was eating my ice cream at the counter I was reading the rest of the menu and noticed that one of the sandwich toppings they offered was Miracle Whip! I'd never seen that on a menu before! My mom was and still a Miracle Whip fan. In fact, I don't think we ever had mayonnaise in the house until fairly recently.

After The Custard Stand I went over to Kroger because I suspected I might need cash for the campground so I figured I could buy something and get cash back.  Only I didn't really need anything.  Ice cream still sounded good, so that's how I found myself in the ice cream section of Kroger where I realized that Kroger sells Greater's! I briefly debated black raspberry chocolate chip vs mint chocolate chip and went with the black raspberry.  I even remembered to get cash back.  But, I only got $20 which ended up not being enough for an electric site! Oh well, I did have enough for a dry camping site and I'm very glad I thought ahead to have cash!

By now it was after 3 and I decided it was time to head over to Seneca Shadows! Seneca Shadows is a very nice forest service campground right off 33 in Seneca Rocks. It's about 2 hours from Front Royal where I'm meeting Kathy for lunch tomorrow and about 3 hours from home.  There aren't very many people here tonight. I'm surprised by how deserted all these places are during Spring Break! I spent some time reading and fixed dinner then took an evening walk around the campground.  It's not very walking friendly. The two dry camping loops are separated from the tents and electic sites and you have to road walk. The other section has great views of Seneca Rocks, which are really neat at sunset (when I was out walking!).  Wishing I'd gotten $40 rather than $20 because I could have been over there! Oh well! It's dark now and all the sites have the same view after dark! 

Greenbriar River Trail - Day 2

My plan today was to ride from Seebert to Sharps Tunnel and Bridge - 20 miles there and 20 back for a 40 mile day.  Seemed like a lot but I've done several 40, even 50 mile days so I thought if I took it slow, took breaks and brought enough food it would be great! 

The overnight low was forecast to be 50 and when I got up it didn't feel cold at all! I ate breakfast at the picnic table and even though my hands were cold, it wasn't so bad.  As I worked to finish my chores my hands were getting colder and colder, so I decided I definitely needed to bring the gloves.  

I had decided to drive the mile and a half to the trail rather than ride, 40 miles was going to be enough, I didn't need to add on an extra 3!  So I was surprised when I started the van and saw that it was 43*! A bit chillier than forecast! I headed off down the trail bundled up in 2 layers on the top and gloves and it took me five miles before I was warm enough to take anything off! 

My first clue that my 40 mile plan was a bit ambitious was right when I got on my bike.  My butt hurt immediately. Not a good sign! 

It was an enjoyable ride into Marlinton, the biggest town around and one of the biggest towns the trail passes through. Most of the scenery in this section is farms! It reminded me a lot of the section of the Virginia Creeper between Abingdon and Damascus. The trail is even paved for about five miles around the town! It was about a mile outside of town that I realized that I'd forgotten to pack the food I'd wanted to get out of the fridge! I'd made my sandwich but I'd forgotten the hummus, veggies, apple, cheese, grapes, yogurt, etc that I'd planned to bring! I only had my sandwich and granola bars I'd packed last night! Agh! I'd been planning to stop at the Dairy Queen in Marlinton on the way back anyway - always gotta have ice cream on long bike rides! So now I was hopefully that I'd have enough with just the granola bars!  Then I got into town and looked at a map, the DQ was out of town on 219, a long way from the trail! No way was I riding extra and it was too far to walk! I didn't take the time to explore them, but I was hopeful there was a food option closer!

In Marlinton the trail ran right by the old trail depot which has been turned into a neat craft shop set up by the Pochantas Artist Co-Op! It's a bit like Tamarak on I64 but here the artists themselves take shifts to run the store and all items are made in Pochantas County. Ann, the lady who was working today was very friendly and explained everything to me! I looked around, found a few things I might like to buy and promised her I'd return on my way way back! Didn't want to carry any purchases an extra 20 miles! 

I continued up the trail toward the bridge and tunnel.  The sun was now all the way up and it was getting warm! I applied sunscreen but decided to leave my lightweight long sleeve shirt on, not for warmth but for sun protection! With no leaves on the trees the sun is fierce! The trail continued along the river with rocks and rhodendron beside it! Occasionally the trail went over a feeder creek with cascades and waterfalls! The scenery on the trail reminds me of a mix of The Virginia Creeper Trail and The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).  It seems more wild and remote than either of those trails, but the scenery is similar. 

Around miles 17 my thighs were really beginning to protest all this biking.  I decided it might help if I walked a bit, I remembered that taking a walking break helped on my GAP trip so decided to walk a mile. Then it started to occur to me than maybe I should reconsider going the whole way, I did have to ride back, and my body was already protesting this.  I stopped at a campsite with a picnic table at about mile 18 and ate my sandwich and decided to turn around.  If I ride in from Cass sometime, maybe tomorrow maybe another day I can pick up that 1.5 mile to bridge - it would still be under 20 miles from Cass.  

Turning around was a good option, it was obvious very quickly that I'd been riding uphill, even though it was gentle, it was still up! One thing about the rail trails is that they are mostly flat, which is good, except that you have to pedal the whole time, no coasting down hills! This is why it makes my thighs hurt! I still had to pedal going down, but it was easier and I was going faster! 

Soon I was back in Marlinton exploring food options.  There weren't many.  There was a Tudor's Biscuit World, which sounded interesting but a quick check of them menu proved otherwise.  All meat filled options that didn't appeal.  There was a gas station with a subway in it so I went there. I didn't want a sandwich, but I got some pretzels and a Klondike Bar!  The Klondike bar made me remember the amazing cookie ice cream sandwiches in Grand Teton and I was wishing they sold those in Marlinton, WV! 

After my snack I headed to a park to use the strong cell signal, then back to the artists co-op where I had another nice chat with Ann, made my purchase and headed out of town.  It was 10 miles back to the van and my thighs weren't happy about that at all. And the sun was doing its job heating things up well!  It did occur to me that I'd ridden about 50 miles in a 24 hour period after having not ridden my bike at all since Nov, and I haven't ridden with any regularity since Aug.  Next time I should probably plan a 20 mile day first then go big with the 40 mile day! 

When I got back to the van I found a shady spot for a snack (my Map My Ride app estimated my calories burned at 2600! Wow! No wonder it's always a challenge to bring enough food!) and the headed back to the campground. The sun was blazing at my site so I put the awning out.  Only it didn't help, it shaded the inside of the van, which was nice, but I wanted to sit outside! I spent the rest of the day reading, walking the campground (not many people here!), and doing some chores. 

I'm headed out from Watoga tomorrow, my original plan was to go to Cass and ride down to where I left off today which would have been a 30 mile RT ride.  Now it's going to be a 33 mile RT.  Not sure what my thighs think of that idea! I may go check out Seneca State Forest and hike a bit, then ride 10 or so miles.  We'll see! 


Greenbriar River Trail - Day 1

I left Kathy and Jeff's a little before 9 heading to Watoga State Park in the heart of West Virginia. It was south on 81 to Staunton then through the mountains to get to the park.  All the roads were good, but it was a remote route with few services, no cell signal and lots of twisty, turns mountain roads!



I came into the park through the north entrance from Huntersville. I had no idea where I was going once I got to the park, just that I needed to find the campground. Usually this is very easy.  Watoga SP is huge! Several entrances, 2 campgrounds, a few picnic areas, a lake, and more! I saw almost all of it! It's a really pretty park with more rhodendron than I think I've ever seen in one place! I'd love to be here in June when it's in bloom! I decided to aim for the Riverside Campground. I knew there was camping close to the bike trail and the bike trail goes along the river, so I figured that would be my best choice! 

I did eventually locate the Riverside Campground, as promised it was right next to the Greenbriar River with the Rail Trail directly across! Despite the nearly perfect camping weather, the campground was mostly empty! I scored a prime site right on the river! And, my site is even in a little sweet spot where there's cell signal! I didn't have cell signal all day until I got to my site! YAY! 

It was 2:00 by the time I got parked and paid so I decided to take a quick exploratory bike ride south on the trail. There is a bridge over the river and trail access a little more than 1.5 miles from the campground so today I decided to ride my bike there and leave the van on the site.  It was a perfect afternoon - temps in the 70s, few high thin clouds! I passed mike marker 45 right after I got on the trail so I decided I'd ride until mile marker 40 and turn around. That would give me almost 15 miles for the day. 

I wasn't far down the trail when I heard a very loud scratching-type sound - almost like fireworks when they rain down mixed with a freight train on steroids coming from behind me. Whatever it was was gaining on me quickly. I was trying to duck and cover and steer the bike thinking whatever this was was going to hit me soon.  And then I realized I knew what the sound was, I'd heard it before, it was a fighter jet! An F-16 something similar! I looked up just in time to see it soar overhead! And just when I'd caught my breath, it's buddy flew over! The 2nd one wasn't as loud though! I did pass two ladies out walking and asked if fighter jets were a normal occurrence and they assured me it happens all the time! 

The rest of the ride went with out any other drama! I saw some red trillium right by mile marker 40 where I turned around. I had a nice snack break at the Mill Creek campsite and then proceeded back to the campground. It was now very hot in my campsite in the sun so I did chores and walked the campground while I waited for the sun to sink down some before I settled in at the picnic table to eat dinner and read! 

Tomorrow I'm planning a 40 mile round trip on the trail! 

Off to West Virginia

Spring Break finally arrived and I was more than ready to get out and go somewhere! I was very happy when both the RV and the generator started! My last camping trip the generator didn't work and the last time I'd planned a trip the RV wouldn't start, but those are stories for another time! This trip looked to be going well so far!

I'd been wanting to explore the Greenbriar River Rail Trail for several years now, however the campground I'd found that is right by the trail didn't open until April 1, so I needed to wait until Spring Break was later and this was my year! I developed a loose plan, starting with dog sitting for my friend Kathy on Sunday night into Monday morning! 

I headed out Sunday morning, stopping at Cava - a Mediterranean "Chipotle" type resteraunt in Gainesville - for lunch and then to my friend Kathy's.  I'd spent a week with Kathy's dog Selena a few years ago so it was a treat to get to spend time with her again! Selena was very surprised by my arrival in the RV and spent several minutes barking at it and me until she was willing to check us out and realized that we were ok!



I'd thought about taking Selena hiking somewhere, but decided that we'd just stay at Kathy & Jeff's - walk the trail they have on their land, walk the mountain road and binge watch Big Little Lies on HBO OnDemand. I don't get HBO and I'd been wanting to watch the mini series based on the book! I got about halfway through and lost interest.  The book is way better! 

This is the first time I've packed the RV to live in it and then attempted to stay at someone's house! Usually when I visit someone I continue to live in the RV and I'm not preparing meals and stuff.  This was kind of a pain! Everything I neeed was in the van and had to be brought in and I hadn't brought a bag or tub so I was carrying things in one at a time.  But it made sense to use Kathy & Jeff's microwave vs running the generator and showing in the house vs the van! 

It was very hard to try and sleep in the house, when I knew that my very own bed was sitting in the driveway. I wasn't sure how Selena would take this, she is used to having free reign to get up and go out whenever she wants and in the van she'd have to be closed up, but my sleep is important to me so I tried it! She was very confused at first but did settle right down and slept curled up next to me! Of course more my bed is full of dog hair, but we did it!